Today was sunny and warm. Jacket weather. This time of year, such a day is cause to celebrate. And so I did...by visiting our public library's gift shop.
"Gift shop" is a tad misleading. There are brand-new giftish items and boutique-ish greeting cards to go with them. Mostly though, it's where one buys the library's cast off and donated books, videos and DVDs cheap.
Well, first there's the 50 Cent Cart, which originally was an actual cart, but is now a shelf unit to the left of the door as you come in. Currently there's a Winter Blowout Sale: 4 books for $1 (50 cents each for 3 or less). But regulars know books in the 50-Cent Cart are always 4 for a dollar, and that only the sign above it changes to reflect the season and imagination of the volunteer staff.
I call this the "surprise me" section. All hardbacks but no set category. Recently it was mostly biographies of people I'd never heard of, or only remembered vaguely from the news years ago. Before that it was novels by popular, as well as unknown, authors; lately though, mostly books on how to start or run a profitable small business. Obviously the library is clearing circulating shelf space for an expected crop of "How To Survive Financial Ruin and/or Unemployment". At any rate, I did find two so-so biographies and two semi-interesting novels.
Total bill so far: $1.00 (for four books).
On the way to the Travel and Celebrity Bios sections, the lady behind the counter announced that Mysteries were on special: 3 for $1 (but 50 cents each for singles), and the assorted paperbacks next to them were six for a dollar (25 cents each for singles).
In the paperbacks, I found a Jude Deveraux I hadn't read - amazing! - same for a Patricia Cornwell. Of course I could've quit there and only added 50 cents to my bill, but six for a dollar was too good to pass up, so I picked three unknowns that looked interesting, plus "Executive Orders" by Tom Clancy. I'm not a TC fan, but the "pocket" edition of EO is 1,358 pages long, and for less than a quarter, I either have a great doorstop or something to read on a 20-hour flight to Australia or Outer Mongolia...if it doesn't trip a charge for exceeding the weight limit for carry-on baggage, that is.
Total bill now: $2.00 (for ten books).
Over to the Mysteries sale corner, all hardbacks. Picked "Buckingham Palace Gardens" by Anne Perry for my Brit Books collection, "Dead In Vineyard Sands" (set on Martha's Vineyard...surprise), and a like-new copy of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown to replace the one I still can't believe I gave away - not loaned - when it first came out. I should mention I ignored a copy of DVC sans dustjacket on the 50-Cent Cart. I dunno....with jacket or without?
Total bill now: $3.00 (for thirteen books).
Next stop...excuse the pun...the Travel section. Absolutely nothing there caught my eye. Nada. Zilch. Can't remember the last time that happened to this Eternal 'Have guidebook, will travel' Armchair Wanderer.
Not so in Celeb Biographies. Even if it weren't sooooo conveniently positioned between Travel and the cash register, I can't leave without checking the selections in this "pricey" section. My limit is $1.75 for any "Lives & Times Of..." but since most are marked $3.00 or more, I've passed up many bios only to keep my fingers crossed that everyone else will pass them up too so a month later they'll have a 50% Off dot.
This time I didn't have to wait for bios of Katherine Hepburn and Charles Kuralt, whom I've always thought had THE best job in the world. Just wandering around the country looking for average people with interesting stories, and getting paid for it. Wow. The last book to go into the basket was a autobiography of someone named Barbara Pym. No clue (yet) who she is/was.
But that's what makes these visits such a treat - not knowing whose stories I'll take home in a Friends of the Library bag.
Total cost for sixteen new adventures: $6.50.
One hour exploring a candy store for the mind. Priceless!